Gender, Place and Culture Appoints New Editor: Dr. Kanchana N. Ruwanpura

kanchana
Dr. Ruwanpura (centre) working together with Y3 undergraduate students to help a refugee drop-in centre on a field trip to Athens, Greece

We are excited to share a guest blog entry from one of our new editors, Dr. Kanchana N. Ruwanpura, who has been in the position for six months. Thanks to Dr. Ruwanpura for sharing this entry about her experience as an editor so far!

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I have been transitioning into my new role as an editor of Gender, Place and Culture (GPC) since the summer and it is nearing six months, without me having a chance to have penned an intervention into our great blog! On the up side, the past few months has also given me a flavour of the role – what it entails and what joys and frustrations it brings and may bring down the line.

I was attracted to apply for the editorial post in GPC because I had recently had an article published and had a great experience through the review process. So when searching on google, quite by chance stumbled upon the advert placed by GPC. Perhaps hoping for a similarly serendipitous outcome, I applied for the role – with some trepidation and uncertainty – not knowing if I would make the cut. My uncertainty stemmed not just from my relatively novice status in the academic hierarchy, at that point still a Senior Lecturer in Development Geography at the Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh, but also because while I am a feminist scholar, I am no geographer by training!

As a social scientist, initially trained in (heterodox) economics and then Development Studies, my transition as a geographer was through on-the-job training and began a decade ago with an array of amazing colleagues at the University of Southampton (2006-2013). When I made the application, my new academic home was one of the birthplaces of GPC – the University of Edinburgh – and where one of the journals founding editor – Liz Bondi – used to have a home within the Institute of Geography.[1] Being involved in GPC was also a chance to keep the Institute of Geography’s critical human geography credentials in place, in whatever small way. In any event, for multiple reasons, to be appointed to the leading feminist geography journal as an editor was a real honor and privilege!

And so serendipitously, I have been appointed one of the new editors of Gender, Place and Culture, and have learnt so much about the feminist academic community that makes GPC what it is. I have learnt about the willingness and openness of some colleagues to generously give their time to review papers, while I have learnt of refusals, silences and incommunicado of others – making this editorial work at times fulfilling and at other times frustrating; wishing all my peers were aware that our academic work is seeped in reciprocity and collegiality. I have learnt of the difficulties entailed in making difficult decisions around rejections and major revisions, and the value of patience in working together with colleagues to get a positive outcome. A work of highs and lows – and more to come, I am sure.

While this learning process has been on the whole enlightening, my frustration also stems from learning how our editorial work gets valued (or not) at our home institutions; a concern for colleagues from various academic homes. So, even as my home institution, the Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh, gets recognition, when we academics, feminist scholars included, make it to be as editors of leading journals in our fields, I also find that in the 21st century that this largely voluntary work is yet to be recognized internally with our academic homes as part of our workload. The underlying feminist concern of what counts and what does not as valuable academic work, however, is still to make headway…and so our feminist work remains to be done. 

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[1] Professor Liz Bondi is still at the University of Edinburgh, but attached elsewhere within the University rather than the Institute of Geography.

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